USF fraternity Chi Upsilon Zeta (XYZ) laced up their walking shoes this past weekend and stepped out in the city to show their support for victims of rape by participating and raising money for the annual San Francisco Walk Against Rape. The fraternity marched alongside other student groups — Latinas Unidas, Tri-Gamma nursing society, and the Gender and Sexuality center — in joint effort of bringing an end to sexual assault.
Participants walked from the starting point at the Women’s Building on 18th Street and Valencia, and passed through the Castro and Mission districts to reach the end point at Potrero del Sol Park, also in the Mission. There, walkers enjoyed refreshments, entertainment, informative speeches on sexual assault, and even a sunny San Francisco day. The event was held on April 27 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Walkers donate a minimum of $10 to register for the 3.5 mile walk, and all proceeds go directly to San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR), the only community-based rape crisis center in the city. SFWAR provides resources, support, and education for those affected by sexual violence. Since 2006, the organization has raised $239,445.
XYZ Community Service Coordinator, senior Joe Estalilla, has overseen the fraternity’s involvement in Walk Against Rape for four years. He is being awarded the Priscilla A. Scotlan Award for his service in XYZ. Estalilla, history major with minors in public service and community engagement as well as Asian studies, said he encourages XYZ involvement because the event promotes social justice: “Since we are a multicultural, community service, and social justice driven fraternity, I [have] brothers attend events that fulfill these pillars.”
Although XYZ is not identified as a national “Greek” fraternity at USF, they are a lettered organization composed of male students and alum, with exclusive rituals and an acceptance process similar to that of a Greek fraternity. According to Estalilla, the emphasis XYZ places on social justice and multiculturalism is what sets it apart: “[These values] break off from traditional values of other fraternities such as academics, leadership, service, and philanthropy, although XYZ also incorporates these values in its programs and activities.”
Another major concern of XYZ involves current socio-global problems: “We hope to educate on, gain support for, and spread awareness of issues concerning diversity and major social and global issues that are happening inside and outside California and the United States,” said Estalilla. This core value of diversity awareness is the influence behind various community service organizations to which XYZ members volunteer their time. These outlets include Operation Christmas Child, AIDS Walk SF, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.
The diverse nature of the organizations with which XYZ members volunteer, leaves them with experiences they will never forget. For member and senior kinesiology major Benjamin Leon, connecting with Filipino WWII veterans was a highlight of his community service with XYZ.: “I think the most memorable experience I have had was volunteering at the Veteran’s Equity Center, which services Filipino WWII veterans and others – because hearing their stories and knowing their struggle to be recognized by the US government is very inspiring to me, and makes me thankful for the things I have that they fought for,” he said.
For XYZ members, community service is a dual opportunity. Reaching out and volunteering with various organizations to create a positive change in the community and world also gives members the chance to cultivate change within themselves: “We heavily focus on individual growth following the structure of mind, body, and soul through education, service, and reflection,” said Estalilla. “XYZ believes that change starts from within. Through changing oneself, one may have the ability to change others slowly and progressively creating a sort of ripple effect throughout the world,” he expressed. Later, he described the values at the heart of his fraternity: “In short, XYZ acts as a basis for individual and communal change, challenging its members to go out and experience the world for itself, and find their own meaning of social justice and multiculturalism.”